Blocksbuster Misguided About Movie Download Business

by Paul William Tenny

I see news from yesterday evening that Blockbuster finally bought out Movielink, a movie download service created by five of the major studios in an attempt to offer consumers a legal alternative to downloading movies without resorting to piracy.

This puts Blockbuster in direct competition with Netflix for movie downloads in addition to by-mail rental, but I think neither company really "gets" it, and here's why: people pirate movies and TV shows through file sharing networks not because online downloading is their new preferred method for getting content, it's because when they download pirated booty, they get it for free.

It really is as simple as that.
This is not a new venue for getting movies quicker. I'm not aware of any service that actually allows you to download DVD quality films, they are all fairly well compressed and tightly wrapped in DRM that doesn't allow you to copy and burn anything you've purchased. This is about people who want to get this stuff for free, and file sharing was invented to make it happen.


People will not flock to slick new Video on Demand services because they'll still cost money. They'll take a look at that, and at one of the big BitTorrent trackers, and they'll get it through BT because it's free, and probably faster too. Plus no DRM. Commercial VoD will not be able to compete or even act as a fall-back/alternative to illicit file trading unless they drop DRM altogether, up the video quality to that of a very solid DVD-rip, and make it extremely cheap since all you're buying are bytes sent over the wire.

Sure, both Netflix and Blockbuster will try and are trying now, but lets be honest about this - Netflix did it so they'd have something unique to offer over Blockbuster, and Blockbuster is doing it to continue competing with Netflix. Neither of them get it, neither of them care about what you want, and until they do, they won't make a dent in file sharing or be able to build their businesses on the back of a new distribution channel for films.


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